Meanwhile, I am very pleased to report the final passage of several bills of significance for Polk County. HB 1023 is my legislation that reduces the size of the Polk school board from nine to seven members. Since this involves elections, it must still be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.
HB 614, 615, 616 and 617 are my bills that provide for increases in the homestead exemption for Polk homeowners. As required by law for changes in the homestead exemption, these must be approved by Polk voters later this year in order to take effect.
In summary, these bills would provide for two changes in our homestead exemption, and both changes would apply to both county and school property taxes.
First, all homeowners would be entitled to an additional exemption to offset the difference if the assessed value of their home ever increased more than ten percent compared to the prior year. I have had a number of homeowners tell me that they had sudden and dramatic increases in their assessed values even though they had not made any additions or improvements to the property. We can’t control the assessed value placed on the property, but this legislation would protect homeowners from dramatic spikes in their tax bills regardless of their assessed values.
Second, low income seniors would receive an increase in their homestead exemption that would shield the first $75,000 of fair market value of their home from county and school property taxes. Thus, those who qualify and own a home valued at that amount or less would not pay any county or school taxes. Those who qualify but whose home is valued at a higher amount would pay taxes only on the difference, meaning that they would see a significant reduction in their tax bill.
Other highlights of the final days include the following:
HB 954 essentially prohibits abortion after twenty weeks of pregnancy. This is the first abortion legislation of any real significance during my time in the House, as Republicans have blocked prior efforts (including the Human Life Amendment) from reaching a vote.
HB 797 establishes funding mechanisms for charter schools in the event that the constitutional amendment allowing the state to create them (previously passed by the legislature) is adopted by voters in November. An attempt was made to offer an amendment that would prohibit creation of charter schools to be operated by for-profit companies, but the speaker refused to allow a vote on the amendment.
SB 447 reduces the number of weeks unemployment benefits can be received by an individual from 26 weeks to 14 weeks, with a sliding scale allowing an increase up to 20 weeks depending on the state’s unemployment rate.
Again, I will be sending out my usual newsletter in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, let me know if you have any questions about these or other legislative matters. Now that session is over, the best ways to reach me are by calling (770) 748-4090 or sending an email to email@example.com. As always, thank you for the honor of representing you in the Georgia House of Representatives.